Friday, July 20, 2012

How to Activate Windows 8 Enterprise Preview

(If you want the quick answer, see the bottom of this article.)

I wanted to start using Windows 8 on my work laptop since it will be released in a matter of weeks.  We're a Microsoft EA customer, so I checked our Volume Licensing downloads and sure enough, there sat "Windows 8 Enterprise Preview" ready to download including the product key.  I compared the build number to the official Window 8 Consumer Preview and it's the same, 8400.

After replacing the drive in my laptop, I downloaded and installed.  Interestingly, it did not prompt me for a key during installation.  After installation, weird "activate this PC" text appeared on the screen that seemed to appear above windows opened on top of it, unlike the "evaluation copy" text.

Trying to activate from the "Metro" interface only gave me a message about a problem that occurred and to try again later.  Activating from control panel gave me more of an error message, but not much:  failed to activate windows, with a generic error code of 0xCxxxx.

So I thought it might be a good idea to call Microsoft Volume Licensing Activation support.  Bad idea. Here's how that went:
Called MS volume licensing activation center.
Did "over the phone" activation - read 9 groups with 7 numbers each.
After all that, person said the numbers were invalid???
Then they asked me to click on icons and options that didn't exist.
Then forwarded me to some tech support group.
Explained previous steps to new support tech.
New guy said volume licensing activation group should help me out.
I told him that they forwarded me to him.
He lies and says no, it was the retail volume license group!
Back to volume licensing group I go - exact same menu options.
Chose same option.
Yet another new guy says he is, in fact, in the volume licensing activation group. Ok.
I provide him Windows version and EA agreement number.
Silence, then on hold music.
Then ringing... what?
MS professional support person answers.
She says she can't hear me and hangs up.

Frustration sets in... install CentOS? Ubuntu?  SmartOS?  Hmmm...  Then I remember seeing the command "SLUI 4" in regards to activating Windows 7.  That brings up the "activation by phone" window.  On a whim, I tried "SLUI 3" - bang!  That brings up the "change activation key" window, exactly what I needed!  I pasted the new key and it activated automagically.

Why was this so difficult?  They'd better fix before RTM!